EC Asserts Microsoft Breached Antitrust Rules with Teams

Earlier this week, European Commission regulators said Microsoft violated EU antitrust rules by including Teams messaging and videoconferencing technology with Microsoft 365 and Office 365. Microsoft previously agreed to sell Teams separately. “Having unbundled Teams and taken initial interoperability steps, we appreciate the additional clarity… and will work to find solutions to address the commission’s remaining concerns,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft vice chair and president.

Teams and other videoconferencing tools were widely adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling businesses to shift to remote work and schools to offer online education. For additional information, see coverage from the New York Times, a timeline from Microsoft, and commentary from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Enjoy your Fourth of July next week! The Executive Briefing will be off next week and will return to your inbox on Friday, July 12. Thank you.

This Week in Washington 

  • FedScoop: A new bipartisan bill, the Artificial Intelligence Public Awareness and Education Campaign Act, introduced by Senators Todd Young and Brian Schatz would have the Commerce Secretary take on new responsibilities related to increasing public awareness about artificial intelligence and conducting outreach for AI jobs available in the government. 
  • Nextgov: Microsoft and Google have begun an effort to help rural hospitals cope with the overwhelming number of cybersecurity attacks that have targeted them in recent years, but the White House hopes other security and tech firms will join them. The White House also shared that Microsoft will offer grants and discounts on security products for smaller hospitals. 
  • StateScoop: Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson named 18 members of his office’s new artificial intelligence task force, including state lawmakers, technology officials, academics, and industry executives. The task force is authorized to recommend guiding principles for the state’s use of generative AI, identify high-risk uses, propose how the state should educate the public, and review public policy concerns.
  • Bleeping Computer: The FBI issued a warning regarding cybercriminals posing as law firms and lawyers that offer cryptocurrency recovery services to victims of investment scams as a way to steal funds and personal information. The FBI says that the fraudsters claim to have collaborated with government agencies to trick victims into thinking they are legitimate.
  • Broadband Breakfast: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) accepted Digital Equity Act plans for American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Each territory was allocated $150,000 by the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program to create plans addressing digital access, skills, and affordability disparities. 

Article Summary

  • Artificial intelligence modeling will be used by a team of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists to forecast and better understand a growing threat to the water caused by toxic algal blooms. AI and machine learning models can decipher data on the blooms to help understand what conditions result in harmful algal blooms (HABs).
  • Semafor: AI systems can decrease the amount of human bias in job recruitment and therefore help companies find the right person for them on a much larger scale than previously available.
  • Northeastern University: A group of Northeastern University researchers developed a new AI architecture designed to detect breast cancer, which has achieved a 99.72% accuracy rate. The same group of researchers also unveiled a web-based artificial intelligence tool designed to diagnose prostate cancer at faster and more accurate rates earlier this year.
  • Wisconsin Public Radio: The leader of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) estimates that almost every underserved or unserved area in the state could have broadband access by 2030
  • Mississippi Today: Internet service providers across Mississippi will receive $70.9 million in grants for infrastructure projects in the latest push to expand the state’s broadband access
  • The Hill: Meta confirms that Instagram accidentally altered users’ settings to limit political content automatically, including those who had turned this option off. Numerous Instagram users pointed out the change in their settings and took notice that this error had occurred shortly before the first 2024 debate between President Biden and former President Trump. 

Featured Podcast

  • WSJ – Tech News Briefing 
    From using mineral properties to electrochemistry, host of Tech News Briefing, Zoe Thomas, is joined by WSJ climate, ocean, and Earth sciences reporter Eric Niiler, to discuss the unusual ways that start-up companies are trying to help remove CO2 from the ocean. However, proving that these new methods are effectively removing carbon dioxide remains an obstacle, Niiler shares. He goes on to add that this is not just about science or contracts, this is about the environment. (“How Radical Tech Could Boost Oceans’ Power to Cool the Planet” – June 25, 2024)